29 January 2014


Just in case anyone's still interested - the gate is just visible after another 48 hours of pretty much continuous snow:

The path up to the bigger barn is impassable - I tried it earlier today but wading in snow up to my hips proved too difficult.

The dog managed to bound his way through it, though. Here he is on his way back:

Invisible at this point, apart from his tail:

And emerging triumphantly from the bottom.

...a bit snowy.

27 January 2014

Snow on snow

If things have been a little quiet around here, it's mainly because I've been spending my spare time digging us out from underneath the snow.

After last Sunday's day-long blizzard, the gate next to the small barn was fairly well buried.

The last three days brought yet more snow and now the gate is barely visible.

But the high winds have scoured the snow off the solar panels, so at least we're back in production up there.

There's no sign of warmer weather in the forecast, although there are threats of more snow, so I suspect it will get worse before it gets better. Oh well, all the shovelling provides a pretty good workout. Who needs a gym membership?

21 January 2014

Ineffectual sunlight

 In theory the solar panels work best in cold weather. In practice however, the really cold weather (today's high was -18°C/0°F) brings some snow with it, which refuses to melt at such low temperatures, limiting our production.

With a whole day of brilliant sunshine, you would hope that the snow on the greenhouse might melt a bit. Well, I suppose it did a bit, but hardly enough to notice. Not that there's much growing in there at the moment. Today I took a look inside for the first time in weeks.The sage bush is still holding on in there and I think one or two of my leeks, kale and parsley plants might just be still alive - but otherwise it all looks a bit bleak. It's hard to believe that in the summer months I am busy in there every day.

Really starting to look forward to spring...

12 January 2014

It's complicated

One thing that has struck me about winters here is how varied they are, which is not something I was expecting before we emigrated. Snow and ice, yes, I was expecting them, but it's the varied combinations of precipitation and temperatures that makes each winter not quite the same as the last and keeps us all talking constantly about the weather (I know the British have a reputation for talking about the weather a lot - but Canadians have so much more weather to talk about).

The ice storm was a first for us, and this winter was also the first time we'd experienced frost quakes (cryoseisms) - when rapid freezing after the ice storm jolted the house in what felt like a small explosion.

After grumbling about the blizzard-like conditions on Tuesday, I had a lovely walk in the snow-drifts that were left in their wake on Thursday.

There were interesting, meringue-like heaps,

alongside coyote tracks,

and ash trees disguised as silver birches, under an impossibly blue sky. Perhaps winter isn't so bad, after all.

Today's walk was less fun. It has warmed up just enough to make the layer of December ice below the snow unstable. Every so often the ice cracks underneath your weight, maliciously snagging an ankle or unexpectedly dropping your whole body six inches lower.

So yes, my relationship with winter is complex. Just when I'm ready to call the whole thing off, it charms me back. And then trips me up again. Sigh.

07 January 2014

Relentless winter

I suspect that the first week in January is probably too early to be getting fed up of winter weather. We haven't had a full thaw since before Christmas, so the layer of ice that fell in the pre-Christmas ice storm is still there, and every so often the weather warms up enough to melt the snow on top of it, but never enough to melt that underlying layer of ice. Which makes walking outside tricky.

The children have not gone back to school yet as the last two days have been extremely cold and windy. Today we've had snow all day with 30mph/50km/h winds, visibility has been pretty low at times. You can see from the trees that the wind has pasted the west-facing trunks with snow.

Temperatures at the end of last week were around -25°C/-13°F. It's a bit warmer this week, but with the wind, it doesn't really feel it! We've been using the kids' toboggans (and the kids!) to bring wood for the fires down from the barns.

We don't rely on the fires now in the way we did in our first winter here, as the geothermal heating copes pretty well in averagely cold temperatures, but warmly glowing logs are a very welcome sight once the temperature dips below about -15°C/5°F!